Court rejects show promoter's claim over comedian's gig

A district court has thrown out claims by a show promoter, Midas Promotions, that a rival company, LAMC Productions, breached an agreement to share the spoils of a show starring superstar comedian Russell Peters.

Midas claimed the firms had agreed to a joint venture whereby both would share the rights and revenue from the 2012 event on a 50:50 basis. This was meant to avoid a bidding war to bring in the show.

Canadian-born Peters, once ranked by Forbes as the third-highest-paid comedian in the world, raked in US$916,544 for the show in May 2012 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. A second night was added by popular demand.

His total pay cheque last year was US$19 million (S$26.5 million), from playing to packed venues like New York City's Madison Square Garden.

Key players in the dispute were Midas director Michael Hosking, husband-and-wife co-owners of LAMC Ross Knudson and Lauretta Alabons, and Ms Marlene Tsuchii, the agent representing Peters.

The two firms have brought some of the biggest names to the region. LAMC is due to bring Guns N Roses next February to Singapore, while Midas has lined up famed singer Bryan Adams for Kuala Lumpur next January.

Midas offered to negotiate a "flat fee" deal on behalf of itself and LAMC, but alleged that LAMC inked a deal with Ms Tsuchii on its own to pay Peters a percentage of the takings.Represented by lawyer Han Wah Teng, it claimed that it was excluded from the deal between LAMC and Ms Tsuchii to promote the event, resulting in damages and income loss.

LAMC, defended by lawyer Salem Ibrahim, denied any such agreement with Midas as alleged and argued it made no commercial sense to go halves on the percentage deal with Peters as the profit margin would have been too thin to share.

On that deal, for which Peters got 80 per cent of the proceeds, Midas and LAMC would each get only US$46,976 on a 50:50 basis. In a flat deal arrangement, where Peters was to be paid US$200,000, they would each get US$134,880.

District Judge Koh Juay Kherng found that there was an agreement between Midas and LAMC to share 50:50 if either was successful, but on the understanding that it applied only to the flat deal offer.

"There was no agreement to share any profit if either party were to secure a deal on a percentage basis," he said in judgment grounds released yesterday. He added that LAMC had discharged its obligation to Midas when the latter was told Peters' agent would not accept a flat deal bid. The court found that at the time of the agreement between Mr Hosking and Mr Knudson, Ms Alabons and Ms Tsuchii had already settled on an 80:20 deal.

"Having considered all the facts before me, I am convinced that Midas had no real chance of obtaining a deal from Marlene, whether on a flat deal or on a percentage basis, simply because Hosking wanted a deal on his terms and Marlene was not interested.

"Hosking could well have secured a 90:10 percentage deal, if he had accepted Marlene's then counter-offer but greed got in the way, he wanted more...," said the district judge.

Midas is appealing against the judgment.

This article was first published on October 22, 2016.
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